I’m A Person First And A Mother Second

This originally appeared on Mamamia. Republished here with permission.

I don’t live for my kids. There, I said it.

“Here she is! Miss Party Animal Of The Year! Do you even remember what your children look like?”

Yes, that was the opening line from one of my husband’s relatives upon my arrival at a family function on Sunday. It didn’t stop there….

“You have a better gay life than I do.”

“Why don’t you ever wear pants when you go out?”

“I saw you dressed as Rihanna one weekend and then Britney last night.”

“Have you forgotten your husband and children? Here they are, how about I introduce you to them.”

Facebook has a lot to answer for. I see these people once a year. I usually get along with them very well. When two of them requested my friendship on Facebook, I, of course, accepted. I had no idea they would be keeping very close tabs on my social activities and drawing incorrect conclusions about my parenting.

I had my first child when I was 21. From there I was on “Australian Idol,” moved two states, hosted breakfast radio, got married, bought a house, had another baby—cue post-natal depression, quit said radio job, sold my house, and moved back home to Melbourne.

Before all that, I had been training six days a week for athletics. So yes, it’s fair to say I have been letting my hair down and then some over the past few months. Also, my children are past the newborn/toddler stage and I no longer feel the need to be by their side 24/7.

I’m home with the girls every morning before school. I partake in fairy dancing, music class, circus, little athletics, making school lunches, blah blah blah. I only work each day between 12-4:30. I feed them vegetab… WHY AM I JUSTIFYING MYSELF RIGHT NOW?!!

I could delete the last paragraph but I am going to leave it, in case one of the in-laws reads this.

After those Facebook “friends” had finished with the verbal attacks, I found myself floundering, trying to explain that I only post things on Facebook that are mildly interesting. I don’t bother with status updates like: “I am home with the kids today as I am most days. We have watched Barbie Fashion Fairytale six times in a row and now I’ll clean up the bathroom and think about dinner.”

It’s true, when my friends and I go out, we get dressed up. Yes, we may take it a little further than most, but how does my love of sequins and feathers equate to me neglecting my family? Just because I go harder than most, because I choose to wear an ill-fitting lycra dress, unfortunate white shoes, and inappropriate underwear, this somehow means I’m an absent mother and wife?

Here are some of the “offending” shots from Facebook:

Em R EM: Im a person first and a mother second.

To be honest, I don’t really have many friends with kids. I only know a handful of other mothers as I find it hard to bond with the 40-year-old plus moms at my daughter’s school. They are lovely people but our lives and interests are very different.

Her best friend’s father is 50, my own father is in his 50’s. I am not really sure what the “norm” is in terms of socializing for people with children. Perhaps compared to other mothers I do go out a lot (1-2 times a week), but I have just never accepted that having children should put an end to who you are as a person and the things you enjoy doing.

Here is a controversial statement: I don’t live for my kids.

I would happily lay down my life for them or cough up a kidney should one of them require it, but I do not consider myself a mother first and a person second.

If you do, great. This is not an attack on you, nor am I saying my way is the right one. I’m simply stating that I am a lady human who happens to have spawned—move on, nothing else to see here.

For a while I thought that meant I was disconnected and maybe even—dare I say it—a “bad mother” because I refused to hand over my very being to my small people.

I am Em. I enjoy Nutella, eating in the shower, and Tina Fey. I own 32 pairs of leggings, over 200 pairs of shoes, and collect owl figurines. I’m also a mother.

I think I’m a good mom. They know that wearing white pants is not acceptable for anyone. They don’t see why gay people can’t get married, they both detest Justin Bieber, they have never eaten fast food, they don’t litter, are kind to animals, and only swear for effect.

I am led to believe a lot of stressed mothers finish the week with a large bottle of wine at home. I just choose to do that in a leotard, covered in glitter on a podium surrounded by gay men.

Have a festive week.

Photo courtesy of the author

Em Rusciano is the host of Mamamia Today on Austereo and regularly appears on Network Ten’s ’The Project’. You should follow her on Twitter here and take a look at her website here.

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